Today we’re going to take a closer look at one of the unsung heroes in the world of behavior change. A powerful yet frequently underused tool in the in the behavior change cabinet of marketing approaches and executions.
I’m talking about the trade show. Sometimes referred to as the expo, convention, conference, or simply an event. However you refer to it, it’s far more than a reason for thousands of people to visit Vegas for a few days on the company dime (although it’s often a perk).
The trade show is coming back. And it’s the perfect environment for behavior change.
The economic downturn caused overall trade show attendance to drop in recent years, but most agree that live events are coming back. That said, companies will still be extremely judicious in how many trade shows they ship employees off to, and will be sure that they are prepped, focused, and have a specific goal in mind.
As an exhibitor or host, a trade show puts you in a pretty ideal situation. Your audience is there of their own volition. They are interested, informed, and want to be more informed. You get valuable face time with this eager group of prospects. And many are even assessing their options in real time. According to a recent survey by Exhibit Surveys, roughly half of trade show attendees plan on buying at least one product or service. And 84 percent show up in some level of a decision making role.
The opportunity to greet these interested prospects with a handshake and a smile is an opportunity that has become all the more rare with the proliferation of digital media. But it’s also how many organizations underutilize the trade show: they leave technology out of the equation. Stress balls and key chains aren’t going to get it done. Face time and technology should complement each other for an informative and—if possible—entertaining experience.
Here are 5 ways we’ve found that technology can make a trade show more engaging:
- Create an experience for one—for many. This is more of an umbrella tactic that can incorporate all sorts of different technologies and executions (a couple of which you’ll find listed below), but the takeaway is that the experience you deliver to visitors has to be personal. It can be as simple as incorporating their first name on a postcard or as complex as playing their favorite song when they enter your booth. Just make sure your “hello” is not one-size-fits-all.
- Sub quick videos for stacks of print. Brochures, flyers, catalogues and pamphlets are all great ways to communicate with prospects, but they can be inconvenient to carry around all day and quickly end up in the trash. A better approach is to create a series of videos that can be accessed via a mobile device. Give a brief, high-level overview of your topic and link to more detailed content.
- Use AR. Why? Because Augmented Reality is cool. Another way of describing it is interactive print. Basically, it allows you to use printed “triggers” to launch enhanced content on a mobile device. Just hold your smartphone over a section of a flyer and that flyer comes to life. You can get creative with the triggers, and it’s a great way to share those videos you made in #2.
- Use RFID. You know what else is cool? Radio Frequency Identification. It’s been used for years in the context of manufacturing and livestock management, and is catching on in a big way in the trade show space. It can allow you to trigger a personalized greeting when a prospect enters or space or allow you to track their movements on the show floor.
- Develop a trade show app. What’s more handy than a free, quickly downloaded app tailored to a specific event? Being helpful by offering maps and local tips can be the most powerful branding experience of all, because you’re not selling anything. Of course, when you develop an app there’s always plenty of room to do your selling, too, incorporating any of the bullets above and more.
When it comes to changing behavior through trade shows, take a look at your own trade show behavior. It’s the perfect opportunity deliver a memorable experience, make a true impact with prospective customers, and brand your company. Get creative. Leverage technology. And have some fun.
Have you had or hosted a memorable trade show or live event? What made it cool? We’d love to hear about it.